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Old July 16, 2008, 02:30 AM   #8
Johnny Guest
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Join Date: August 28, 1999
Location: North Texas
Posts: 4,117
Tom Horn and the auto pistol?

I've read in at least two places that after being condemned to hang, Horn broke jail and stole an automatic plistol from a desk in the sheriff's office. The stories I read both indicated it was a problem with finding the safety. One story indicated it was a Luger, the other just that it was an automatic pistol. Personally, I think the one about his not understanding the toggle action is somewhat more likely.

Horn was known as an outstanding rifle shot, and he carried a double action revolver for at least part of his career. He was not loath to adopt new technology, as witness his use of the then-newfangled, smokeless powder Winchester Model 1894 in .30-30. Even so, there couldn't have been too many Lugers in circulation, that early and that far west.

The story may be entirely apocryphal, with no basis in fact. Conversely, it may have happened, and is based solely on the fact(?) that Horn grabbed up some sort of auto pistol. News writers, and even editors of the day were not above providing some entirely imaginary "details" to flesh out a good story.

It's mighty difficult to sort out fact from fiction at any remove in time and distance. I personally recall that an early report of the assassination of President Kennedy said that Dallas Police had seized the rifle, "a .30-30 Mauser."

Now, having veered so far from the initial thread topic, there's one more thing that should be said about Ton Horn and his jail break: It probably didn't happen at all. While writing this I Google searched Tom Horn. I read six or seven pages of the references brought up, and not one single one referred to the supposed jailbreak. The only specific recollection I have of my sources was in the novel, I, Tom Horn, by Will Henry, a fictional autobiography. I've long been a fan of Will Henry, aka Clay Fisher, t/n Henry Wilson Allen (d. 1991, age 79.) He was an outstanding novelist. Many of his plots were based on historical characters and incidents, but a historian he was not. This is not to say Mr. Allen didn't hear the jailbreak story somewhere. But it is equally likely that he made it up, in furtherance of the novel.

Oh, well - -
Johnny
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